Lithium Development Project Planned Near Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point
An Australia-based company has submitted a proposal to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to mine for lithium near the entrance of Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park in Grand County, Utah. The project, if implemented, will include the expansion of existing roads, construction of well pads, drilling of two test wells, and installation of related infrastructure.
The project as proposed will take place along State Route 313, which has been designated as the Dead Horse Mesa Scenic Byway by the State of Utah—a route traveled by more than a million visitors each year. In addition, according to the BLM, the development activity will take place “along” the popular Rodeo Bike Trail and “within earshot” of the Horsethief Campground.
While lithium is a mineral that will play a critical role in our country’s much needed transition away from fossil fuel dependence, its mining and extraction must not come at the cost of our state’s world-class scenic landscapes. SUWA intends to engage with the BLM in this planning process to ensure that the mining, if approved, is done in the most environmentally protective manner possible. You can add your voice too. The BLM is accepting public comments on the project through July 27th.
>> Click here to submit your comments via the agency’s web portal
Photo: Dead Horse Point State Park (Adobe Stock)
BLM Cancels Oil & Gas Lease Sale in Utah, Resumes Leasing Elsewhere
Despite Biden administration campaign promises to halt all new onshore oil and gas leasing and development, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) held its first competitive sale in June offering parcels for development across the West. The agency was not legally required to hold these sales, and the sales will do little, if anything, to lower the price of oil and natural gas. In fact, operators are currently sitting on thousands of unused (but approved) drilling permits and millions of acres of undeveloped leases.
But there is some good news: In Utah, no lease parcels were offered for development because the BLM granted SUWA’s lease sale protest and cancelled the Utah sale. This is a victory for public lands in Utah, including our water, wildlife, and climate.
While we are pleased that the BLM granted our protest, the agency unfortunately held other sales throughout the West at a time when we need to be reducing our use of fossil fuels if we are to have any hope of avoiding the worst impacts of the climate crisis.
Photo: Utah drill rig, © Neal Clark/SUWA
SUWA Challenges Expansion of Lila Canyon Coal Mine
Earlier this summer, SUWA and the Sierra Club filed a federal lawsuit challenging a last-minute decision by the Trump-era Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to expand the Lila Canyon coal mine. The coal mine is located less than a quarter mile from the Turtle Canyon Wilderness and along the western slope of Utah’s wild Book Cliffs region. The lawsuit is just the latest chapter in SUWA’s decades-long fight to protect the air, water, and wildlife of this remarkable area from destructive coal mining activity.
The BLM’s decision, if allowed to stand, will extend the life of the mine by a minimum of two to three years and allow for the extraction of an additional 7.2 million tons of coal. The anticipated mining activity will emit millions of tons of greenhouse gas pollutants, further exacerbating the ongoing climate crisis—and, by association, the decades-long drought in this region.
SUWA’s lawsuit aims to keep these dirty fossil fuels—and their carbon emissions—in the ground. The Western Environmental Law Center is helping to represent SUWA in this case. Stay tuned for updates.
Photo: Lila Canyon area, © Ray Bloxham/SUWA
SUWA Co-Hosts Events, Rolls Out Utah Silvestre Podcast Miniseries for Latino Conservation Week
It’s Latino Conservation Week, and this year, from July 16-23, we’re proud to be co-hosting events in southwest Utah with our friends at HEAL Utah, Conserve Southwest Utah, and other local organizations that recognize the importance of Latino/a/e leadership within the conservation movement. Upcoming events include a group bike ride along the Virgin River and a stargazing party (Fiesta de las Estrellas) in the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area. Click here for brief descriptions of the events and follow the heading links for full details.
We are also excited to announce the release this week of Utah Silvestre, a four-part miniseries from SUWA’s Wild Utah podcast. Hosted by Amy Dominguez and Olivia Juarez, each episode is available in both Español and English, created for our Latino/a/e gente to recognize that redrock wilderness is embedded in our community wellness, cultural histories, traditions, and our futures. Check out our podcast page and give it a listen, or subscribe to Wild Utah through your favorite podcast app.
Monthly Giving: A Great Way to Give Back to the Redrock
If you’re looking for a convenient, hassle-free way to help SUWA over the long term, please consider our monthly giving program. Monthly giving of any amount is easy and secure. It includes all the benefits of a SUWA membership, and your sustaining support provides SUWA with reliable, year-round funding for our legal, legislative, field, and organizing work.
Is protecting the redrock worth $5 or $10 a month to you? That adds up to $60 or $120 a year, which goes a long way to helping keep your public lands wild. For more details or to join as a sustaining member, please visit our website at suwa.org/monthly.